Born in 1958 to a conservative and wealthy family, Betsy DeVos is no stranger to the Christian faith as she was raised in the Christian Reformed Church in Holland, Michigan. She lived in a mostly Dutch community, right off the shores of Lake Michigan. Prior to marrying her husband Dick DeVos, she attended Calvin College, which is a Christian school close to Grand Rapids. Betsy has been known to be committed to her family and her community. She and her billionaire husband who is also the co-founder of Amway made contributions to a variety of conservative, political and religious causes. DeVos who is also an advocate for education, charter schools, and vouchers that allows students to take advantage of the public funding to cover the cost for private, and on occasions, religious schooling.
DeVos’ hometown has many ties to the Netherlands, including religious, ethnic and other cultural ties. Some of which were associated with the debate that took place in the 1800s about public education and what it should look like in the Netherlands. Most liberal politicians pushed for increasing public secular schools and their success led to the anger of reformed and Catholic groups. While liberal politicians argued that religious schools did not deserve equal funding as public schools, the adoption of an early version of the school choice was birthed.
DeVos, who is also no stranger to political affairs, was known as Trump’s Controversial education secretary. However, she and the Trump administration endorsed the concept that theologian Abraham Kuyper had about neutral funding. His belief was that religious-based schools of different types and public schools should have a neutral yet consensual philosophy whereby all public funding is shared equally and fully. Kuyper also significantly influenced Calvin College and its deep beliefs in the modern Dutch society.
Some credits consider such a philosophy a violation of the commitment to the separation of church and state, whereas others have the belief that there should be equal treatment. Funding should be available on a neutral basis by meeting the funding needs of both secular schools as well as religious schools. Although DeVos has basically opposed regulations, as her critics and opponents have argued, that has contributed to the decimation of public education during this process. To that end, by her being opposed to such regulations, yet is in support of school vouchers, she has been put at odds with various school choice supporters to the likings of John King, a charter school co-founder, and former education secretary.
Others argue that DeVos has played a large role in the promotion of policies that have caused harm to the public education system. however, critics and opponents are hopeful that she will inadvertently develop an opportunity for a new focus on public education that is operated democratically.
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